Feature Article: The Interiors Issue
Our wildly popular Interiors Tour returns for its second year to take you inside Austin’s most stylish spaces.
Adam Talianchich didn’t know he wanted to be in the industry until he was already in it. A third generation builder, Talianchich had spent years honing his construction skills while pursuing a career in environmental science. But when he met Ashley Menger—his wife and co-owner of their design company, Hatch Works—in 2003, the two began working on house projects for fun and discovered their momentum as designers. Menger (who also works in digital design) has always gravitated towards interior design, but resisted the pull after watching her mother work in the industry. “I grew up watching the beautiful work of my mother, an interior designer, but also saw first hand the challenges of a small business centered around a passion point. You are a bit more vulnerable, you work harder than you should, and there are more tasks that aren’t related to design,” she explains. “But I finally learned that working in a medium you love is the most rewarding thing ever, and frankly, I wasn’t any good at anything I wasn’t passionate about. So here we are in a small design business. Since we’re in it together, we have a good support system for perspective, sanity checks, and unsolicited glasses of wine.” By 2010, the two were working on custom projects for a handful of clients when they realized they had enough demand to sustain a business. Still going strong today, the couple is one of the most down-to-earth duos in the business, encouraging prospective clients to come by for a drink on their porch and talk about houses. “We like to build for how our clients truly live and work,” Menger says. “That means getting to know who they are and where they plan to grow. It’s been wonderful getting to know the cooks, potters, entertainers and avid readers who in turn inspire a kitchen, a studio, an outdoor dining room, or a reading nook.” For Hatch Works, getting to know their client so intimately is an essential key to successful design, one that can distinguish a house from a home. “It’s not just picking up or building a bunch of objects that you like and putting them together in a room,” Talianchich says of the design process. “Design is about starting with a kernel of an idea and letting it flower and expand from there.” Tour goers will have the chance to walk through their inspiring personal East Side residence (as seen on this month’s cover).
At Hatch Works, Adam Talianchich and Ashley Menger are always trying to liven up simple spaces. At their own home, they added numbers to their stairs for their young daughter who is just learning to count.
“I love to have at least one ‘moment’ in each room,” says the Austin native and up-and-coming designer, Claire Zinnecker. “Whether that be a bold wallpaper in a small powder room or a brightly colored door. There should always be a wow factor.” For one of Zinnecker’s clients, Ashton Arthur, whose home will be featured on the tour, has a wow factor that begins the moment you step inside the home, first passing through a brightly colored door. “I love that Ashton isn’t afraid of making a statement,” Zinnecker says. It is her self-described Scandinavian simplicity with a touch of bohemian vintage that has earned her a devoted following on Instagram where she curates examples of her effortless and cool style. After several years of working with some of Austin’s most prominent designers like Joel Mozersky and Veronica Koltuniak, Zinnecker struck out on her own, opening her design firm Claire Zinnecker Design in September of 2013. The boutique interior design group is something like a dream come true for Zinnecker. “I decided I wanted to be an architect around the age of seven,” Zinnecker recalls. “But in high school my uncle, who is also an architect and was my inspiration for pursuing that career, encouraged me to focus more on interior design,” she explains. “I am so thankful he did!”
Dedicated to her craft, Claire Zinnecker uses her own house as a design lab. She says: “I am constantly rearranging my house to experiment before putting the idea into practice in a client’s home!”
SARAH WITTENBRAKER INTERIORS
Interior design was an interest Sarah Wittenbraker flirted with for years, always in the back of her mind as she worked in creative jobs at a television network, fashion house and magazine. Then, she took the leap of faith, turning what she calls “an obsessive hobby” into a career and hasn’t looked back since. Now, she is bringing her signature style to life in homes across Austin and Texas. Whether it’s a burst of color or a wild wallpaper, the Dallas native and chic mother of three, is always ready to make a bold statement. “A little humor is necessary,” Wittenbraker says. “Let’s not all take this so seriously. This is fun stuff!” Wittenbraker aims to create memorable spaces that will leave lasting impressions. In her family home, she used a bold wallpaper print inspired by Penguin Classics to bring life to her guest bathroom. “I hope that when my kids are grown, they’ll fondly say, ‘Remember that crazy wallpaper Mom put in our powder room?’” She encourages likeminded daring choices for anyone looking to revamp a space. “Bold touches, even if small, are what people remember.” Tour goers will have the chance to see her personal family home on the tour. “I like a little drama and contrast,” she says of the house, a kid-friendly home that displays a blending of new and vintage pieces, a mix of black and white, and a bold use of fabrics and prints. She says: “Contrasting elements, whether that’s vintage and modern, differing textures or unexpected color, give a home some soul.”
Keen to family-practical design, Wittenbraker’s plans for this home included nothing “so precious that a kid can’t color, eat, or nap on it. I love shocking my kids, while also creating memories for them. Whether that’s painting our downstairs black or installing wild wallpaper.”
ROBIN COLTON STUDIO
Somewhere along the way of a successful career in fashion design—one that landed her in the costume shop of The Young and The Restless, with the Seattle Orchestra, and even as a lead designer for Nordstrom’s own private label—Robin Colton felt a shift in her focus. “I always felt a pull toward interior design. The idea of taking my fashion knowledge and sensibility and working directly with people one-on-one to improve their lives resonated with me,” Colton says. Her studio celebrated three years in November 2014. Ten years well into the design game, Colton is still constantly inspired by her clients’ unique wants and needs for a space. One of Colton’s long-standing clients will showcase their home in the upcoming tour, a shining display of the designer’s talent and capacity to hone in on personal tastes. “This client loves lighting,” Colton explains, “so each space is defined by a unique fixture from a brilliant green wood sculptural chandelier to an aged wine barrel chandelier to an Ingo Maurer fixture with real feather wings that are clipped to each bulb.”
Once a fashionista, always a fashionista. Robin Colton says she still finds personal inspiration from following up-and-coming fashion designers every season.
SARA SCAGLIONE, SHABBY SLIPS
“Like most anyone I get inspiration from travel,” says Sara Scaglione, owner of Shabby Slips. Since she was 10 years old and spending time in Uruguay, Scaglione has been inspired by the colors, materials and textures of faraway places. She makes note of this trip as well as the many shopping excursions on which she accompanied her designer dad as the makings of her career in interior design. Today, after 20 years as the owner of Shabby Slips, she has a design viewpoint all her own. “The space must be livable but also have some element of a cool vibe,” she describes. “I like a good contrast like a white wall with a dark floor or vice versa.” And she’s still enamored with the rich elements that sparked her passion for design back in Uruguay. “I use a lot of natural materials like marbles, woods, woven textures and textiles like alpaca wool. I’m also into nickel or brass plating metal to completely dress it up…like a little piece of jewelry!” Now all of Austin is invited to take an intimate look at her personal home on the Interiors Tour. She says: “The style of the house reminds me of living on the east coast. The bones of the house have a more traditional aesthetic which I love as a base so that I can decorate with a more relaxed mix of antiques and mod pieces.”
One of Scaglione’s favorite design elements of the property is the addition of trim molding to the living room walls, which gave a polished detail to the space.
CHRIS SANDERS AND SCHEER & CO.
By simply observing the way people occupy and live in spaces, Chris Sanders has found great success as an architect. Since deciding to study architecture in college, life has steered Sanders in the direction of this industry, often taking him to new destinations—like Germany—to work on exciting projects. “Along the way I’ve managed to travel, work and live in wonderful, inspiring places,” Sanders says. “Those places and experiences influence my work every day.” Such experiences eventually landed Sanders in Austin, where he founded Sanders Architecture in 2009. Under his direction, the firm has created renown Austin destinations such as the AWAY Spa at W Austin, as well as intimate, personal spaces like the one featured on the Interiors Tours. The featured house showcases Sanders’ ability to transform a traditional 1990s house with a lack of sun into a light-filled, detailed home for a family of five. To accomplish this task, he collaborated with Killy Scheer of Scheer & Co. Interior Design. For the project, the Pratt Institute grad was responsible for designing the furnishings and accessories and styling the home. “Rather than completely eradicate the previous aesthetic, one of the key goals was to bridge the fairly traditional beginnings with a more modernist-leaning result by preserving a handful of interesting features throughout the house and cleaning up some of the less elegant elements,” Scheer says. One of her favorite elements of the home? “The steel front and back doors that Chris created are phenomenal and truly transformed the space by bringing an austere, industrial modernity to the previously dark and uneventful first floor. Now the entry and living room are flooded with light, creating a wonderful exchange between the indoors and outdoors.”
Architect Chris Sanders and designer Killy Scheer joined forces to infuse a modern aesthetic into this traditional style house. Above: Sanders sits on a floating oak stairwell, a stark contrast to the steel doors of the entryway.
BUTTER LUTZ INTERIORS
When one door closes, another one opens into a beautifully designed space by Amy Lutz, designer and co-founder of Butter Lutz Interiors. For Lutz, design is in the family (her father was a builder and her mom lent a hand in designing). Her degree in fashion merchandising led to a job doing visual merchandising that reawakened her interest in designing visual displays, which she continued to do for different companies until 2008. It was then that she joined Butterfield Custom Homes. Only a year later, she branched off to start Butter Lutz Interiors with her partner Matt Butterfield, a firm that bridges the gap between building and interior design. “Being knowledgeable on the construction side of things allows me to help plan early and design the bones of a home with the understanding that all these things work together to the end result,” Lutz says. The tour home is a perfect representation of a stylish Austin family home. “What I love most about this house is the family lives in every space,” Lutz says. “I feel honored to get to do this work for a living.”
Before establishing herself as an interior designer, Amy Lutz dabbled in fashion design, but switched career tracks when she realized she “couldn’t draw a stick figure.”
After breaking into the business with a gig working for famed New York designer Bunny Williams at only 23 (an experience she claims was “life changing”), Meredith Ellis was well on her way to making a name for herself in the interior design world. Her talent and ambition took her to Los Angeles next, where she started her own business in 2008. Just a year later, she uprooted again, this time to Austin to start a family. Traveling is one of her main sources of stimulation. “I have always been inspired by travel, as it exposes you to people and ideas from all over the world,” she says. “I will say though that I love my design books! It’s a great way to take a visual journey in between the real trips!” And when you’ve got a beautifully furnished home in one of the country’s most thriving cities, why would anyone want to take off? For the Tour, Ellis is opening her doors for an exclusive look at how she has designed her very own space. She says: “At the core, I try to create a home that is reflective of the people who live there.”
A lover of English Interiors, Ellis often combines and layers various textiles into her spaces and incorporates antique pieces when possible. Meredith Ellis names Michael Smith as one of her early mentors. He works on designs for the White House.
Please join us for the second annual TRIBEZA Interiors Tour—supported by Copenhagen, NEST and Scott + Cooner—on Saturday, January 24. We carefully curated the lineup of designers to represent a diverse group of creatives who all bring their own approach and vision to design. The kickoff event on January 22 is sponsored by 787 Realty and Four Hands Home. Additional tour sponsors include California Closets, SWBC Mortgage andUrbanspace Real Estate + Interiors. Our hope is that the tour will leave you with inspiration for fresh design ideas to bring in to your home.
Visit the TRIBEZA Interiors Tour page for more information about the Tour and to purchase tickets.